Saint Joseph of Cupertino

Feast Day - September 18

Patron Saint of Flying

Saint Joseph of Cupertino was born Giuseppe Maria Desa in Cupertino, Apulia.  He was said to be prone to miraculous levitation and intense ecstatic visions. 

He is recognized as the patron saint of air travelers, aviators, astronauts, people with a mental handicap, test takers, and weak students.

Joseph suffered from painful ulcers during his childhood. After a hermit applied oil from the lamp burning before a picture of Our Lady of Grace, Joseph was completely cured from his painful ulcers.  He was given the pejorative nickname "the Gaper," due to his habit of staring blankly into space. He was also said to have had a violent temper.

When he was 17, Joseph attempted to join the Friars Minor Conventuals, but his lack of education prevented him from gaining admittance. He was soon after admitted as a Capuchin, but removed from the order shortly thereafter when his constant fits of ecstasy proved him unsuitable. Eventually, in his early twenties, he was admitted into a Franciscan friary near Cupertino.

According to believers, Joseph could barely read or write, but continued to grow in holiness and wisdom, leading a life of poverty and prayer. He was unsuited for scholarship, but could answer intricate questions. He also performed menial tasks around the friary, such as gardening, looking after the animals, cleaning their stalls, and helping in the kitchen. Joseph was also often found wandering in a daze, winding up in different places in the friary unaware of how he got there.

When he was a candidate for deacon, the bishop at random asked Joseph to expound on the text "Blessed is the womb that bore thee." He did well. Thus he was ordained deacon. When it was a question of the priesthood, the first candidates did so well that the remainder of the candidates, Joseph among them, were passed without examination and Joseph was ordained a priest in 1628.

On October 4, 1630, the town of Cupertino held a procession on the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi. Joseph was assisting in the procession when he suddenly soared into the sky, where he remained hovering over the crowd. When he descended and realized what had happened, he became so embarrassed that he fled to his mother's house and hid. This was the first of many flights, which soon earned him the nickname "The Flying Saint."

Joseph's life changed dramatically after this incident. His flights continued and came with increasing frequency. His superiors, alarmed at his lack of control, forbade him from community exercises, believing he would cause too great a distraction for the friary. For the fact was, Joseph could not contain himself. On hearing the names of Jesus or Mary, the singing of hymns, during the feast of St. Francis, or while praying at Mass, he would go into dazed state and soar into the air, remaining there until a superior commanded him under obedience to revive.

Joseph's most famous flight allegedly occurred during a papal audience before Pope Urban VIII. When he bent down to kiss the Pope's feet, he was suddenly filled with reverence for Christ's Vicar on earth, and was lifted up into the air. Only when the Minister General of the Order, who was part of the audience, ordered him down was Joseph able to return to the floor.

Among other paranormal events associated with Joseph, he is said to have possessed the gift of healing. Legend holds he once cured a girl who was suffering from a severe case of measles. Another story holds that an entire community suffering from a drought asked Joseph to pray for rain, which he did with success.

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